Both tristero and I have weighed in with stunned, slack jawed incredulity that the president of the United States has blithely admitted that he approved of the highest members of his administration meeting to discuss and approve specific torture techniques and regimes for specific prisoners. This news was buried in a Friday news dump, but even so you would think news organizations would highlight this amazing story on the front page of their web site and mention it in their newscasts. Who would have ever thought you'd have a president casually say something like this?
In the interview with ABC News Friday, Bush defended the waterboarding technique used against KSM.
"We had legal opinions that enabled us to do it," Bush said. "And no, I didn't have any problem at all trying to find out what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed knew."
Well, Marcy Wheeler notes that even ABC, which broke the story, has decided the story is no big deal:
Update: Reader David F. reminds me of this anecdote from The Nelson Report, back in May 2004, via Josh Marshall:
We can contribute a second hand anecdote to newspaper stories on rising concern, last year, from Secretary of State Powell and Deputy Secretary Armitage about Administration attitudes and the risks they might entail: according to eye witnesses to debate at the highest levels of the Administration...the highest levels...whenever Powell or Armitage sought to question prisoner treatment issues, they were forced to endure what our source characterizes as "around the table, coarse, vulgar, frat-boy bully remarks about what these tough guys would do if THEY ever got their hands on prisoners...."
-- let's be clear: our source is not alleging "orders" from the White House. Our source is pointing out that, as we said in the Summary, a fish rots from its head. The atmosphere created by Rumsfeld's controversial decisions was apparently aided and abetted by his colleagues in their callous disregard for the implications of the then-developing situation, and by their ridicule of the only combat veterans at the top of this Administration.
In October 2005, Nelson reported this, when Powell aide Larry Wilkerson started talking, via Steve Clemons:
Another topic of emotional importance in Wilkerson's talk, which clearly echoes Powell's personal concerns, was his denunciation of the "torture memo" and its effects, predicting "ten years from now, when we have the whole story, we are going to be ashamed."
What is he hinting? In some of the private chats noted above, Powell and Armitage have quoted President Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney as leading a collective round of ridicule when Powell, at Cabinet meetings, and Armitage, at Subcabinet, sought to put limits on mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo. . .long before the cancer of Abu Ghraib.
I think we know what was happening now, don't we? The "principals" were all sitting around the table devising torture techniques based on the previous episode of "24" (or their favorite S&M website), and when Powell meekly objected, they called him a faggot. In the White House. If Bush wasn't in the room, he was listening on speaker phone. This has codpiece written all over it.
Not that even this made Powell resign, of course. But then he proved a long time ago that there was literally nothing he wouldn't defend publicly while whispering in interested ears behind the scenes the exact opposite.